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glen brown

    SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY FOR WATERSHED SYSTEMS: “The BC Framework points the way to a holistic and integrated approach to asset management. Nature, and the ecosystem services that it provides, are a fundamental and integral part of a community’s infrastructure system,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability


    “The BC Framework focuses on desired outcomes rather than prescribing specific methodologies, thereby allowing local governments to develop and implement an approach that can be measured and incremental, tailored to the individual needs and capacities of individual local governments. The focus on outcomes is consistent with the ‘enabling philosophy’ that defines the approach to regulation in BC. The Province recognizes that communities are in the best position to meet their own unique needs and local conditions,” stated Kim Stephens.

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    SUSTAINABLE CREEKSHED SYSTEMS AND THE ASSET MANAGEMENT CONTINUUM: “We needed a way to illustrate diagrammatically what the journey by a local government to the eventual Sustainable Service Delivery destination would look like. This led us to the concept of a continuum. The relevance of this way of thinking is that different local governments will always be at different points and different levels of maturity along the asset management continuum. This is why we focus on outcomes and do not prescribe what to do in BC,” stated Glen Brown, Asset Management BC Chair, when he unveiled the continuum at the 2015 Annual Workshop organized by the Partnership for Water Sustainability


    “Sustainable Service Delivery builds on the principles of Asset Management. It integrates land use, infrastructure servicing, financial and ecological planning. Emphasis is on the Levels-of-Service that assets provide, and ‘what level is affordable’ over time. Nature is an asset and provides ‘services’. The benefits and value of ‘design with nature’ solutions grow over time. The BC Framework is a holistic and integrated approach to asset management. It identifies natural services and the use of natural resources – and how they are part of / integrated into the overall services provided at a local government level,” stated Glen Brown.

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    PROFILE IN COURAGE: “There is a special type of courage that Council needs to have to say, ‘give us the naked truth’. There is not a lot of political up-side to shining a light on infrastructure challenges. Oak Bay Council did that, no holds barred,” stated Christopher Paine, Director of Financial Services, when he explained the vision of Council in setting the direction for Oak Bay’s Sustainable Infrastructure Replacement Plan


    “Two things about Oak Bay are quite unique. First, I know of no other situation where an engineering department and a finance department are so much in lockstep on a unified vision for asset management. That was really spurred by Council’s culture. That is the second thing. They knew there was an issue with an aging infrastructure because the visible signs were there. They trusted staff and they started investing heavily in infrastructure funding. Anybody who is going to hear or read about the Oak Bay story, the thing that they really must understand is the role of Council,” stated Christopher Paine.

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    ASSET MANAGEMENT CONTINUUM POINTS THE WAY TO EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: “It is all about the service. Basically, well-maintained infrastructure assets are worthless IF they do not provide a service. Also, for any asset management approach to be successful, it must not focus on the infrastructure asset by itself,” stated Guy Felio, infrastructure management and resilience specialist, in his keynote address at the 2017 Asset Management BC Annual Conference


    “Lack of data and certainty has not stopped municipalities from providing services, managing their assets, and making effective and efficient use of their scarce resources. Extreme weather and future climate uncertainty is another variable to consider; but where to start? There are no reasons not to consider climate uncertainty in asset management. Ultimately, the focus is on the service and the community, and ensuring critical assets maintain functionality during the extreme event, and recover quickly any functionality lost!”

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    ASSET MANAGEMENT CONTINUUM: “Implementation of asset management along with the associated evolution of local government thinking is a continuous process, not a discrete task. We needed a way to illustrate this diagrammatically. This led us to the concept of a continuum to illustrate sustainable service delivery,” stated Glen Brown, General Manager (Victoria Operations), Union of BC Municipalities


    Glen Brown coined the term Sustainable Service Delivery in 2010. Formal branding came with rollout of “Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework” in 2015. The emphasis on service is a game-changer. Under Glen Brown’s leadership, Asset Management BC uses the term Sustainable Service Delivery to focus local government attention on desired outcomes. These flow from policy objectives in Living Water Smart to implement a life-cycle approach to asset management AND eliminate the unfunded gap for infrastructure replacement.

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    ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “The title of the BC Framework is deliberate and important. The ‘function’ and responsibility of Municipal Councils and Regional Boards of Directors is Sustainable Service Delivery. The process to support decision making is Asset Management,” stated Glen Brown, Chair of the Asset Management BC Partnership Committee


    “The core document for asset management for BC local governments is ‘Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework’. It provides the basis for the entire asset management process for our local governments to follow. Basically, well-maintained infrastructure/assets are worthless IF they do not provide a service. For any asset management approach to be successful, it must not focus on the infrastructure/asset by itself. That way-of-thinking applies to nature and the environment as well,” stated Glen Brown.

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    BRITISH COLUMBIA’S INFRASTRUCTURE GRANT CONDITIONS HAVE MADE THE RULES SERVE THE GOALS: At the inaugural Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series, Catriona Weidman foreshadowed that “adapting to climate change and reducing the impact on the environment will be conditions of receiving provincial infrastructure funding” (September 2008)


    “We all work with rules. We don’t want to argue about the rules. What we really want to do is change some of the rules to create the greener, more sustainable communities that people would like. The provincial government is using infrastructure funding to encourage a ‘new business as usual’ – one results in the right type of projects – rather than taking a stick approach. The Province is leveraging its grants programs to influence changes on the ground. British Columbia is in transition,” stated Catriona Weidman when she foreshadowed how expectations would become standards for greener communities.

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    ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Our unique training program will help local governments take it to the next level,” stated Wally Wells, Executive Director of Asset Management BC, when he announced a FREE training program for local governments and First Nations (September 2020)


    While BC’s local governments have made great strides in managing their assets for sustainable service delivery, there’s still a lot to be done. Moving beyond inventories and condition assessments takes time, resources, and planning. “We’ve heard from local governments and First Nations at our conferences and workshops there are still a number of barriers to fully implementing asset management as a way of doing business,” said AM BC Executive Director Wally Wells. “That’s why we’ve developed this program to provide a few different ways to help people advance their asset management practices.”

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    ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “The question often comes up, when is asset management over or complete? As long as you own assets, never! The process is not static, but the inputs are constantly changing as assets are added, deleted, replaced, or upgraded,” wrote Wally Wells, Executive Director of Asset Management BC, in the Summer 2020 Newsletter


    “The primary cause of the ‘infrastructure gap’ is that we operate on today’s budgets without much attention to the ageing assets and future requirements for replacement or renewal. Or at least that is the way we operated up until now. The asset management process provides the tools to address this gap and hopefully prevent the gap from growing by planning, methodically, for the short and long term. The BC Framework is deliberately titled, “Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework”. The operative word is ‘sustainable’ — both economically and physically,” stated Wally Wells.

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    ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “We are still at the front end of our asset management journey, but we have been able to adapt to this unexpected change in operating conditions brought on by the global health pandemic,” stated Austin Tokarek, Asset Coordinator with the Cowichan Valley Regional District (Asset Management BC Newsletter, Summer 2020)


    “Prior to this change, the CVRD, as an organization, recognized the value of a Strategic Asset Management Plan that defines levels of service, includes a risk management framework for managing climate change impacts, identifies infrastructure condition and priorities for renewal projects, and that attempts to identify future demand scenarios and break down the functional silos established by each department. This strategy enables an understanding of the systems within our community, interactions between staff, infrastructure requirements, defined service levels, and the costs to deliver those services,” stated Austin Tokarek.

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